Whether you’re new to Split Leaf Philodendron care or have an established green thumb, everyone loves a big, beautiful tropical plant that’s easy to care for.
The Split Leaf Philodendron is one of many sought-after philodendron varieties that hobbyists, at all experience levels, are eager to add to their collection.
Many species of philodendron are known to be low maintenance and quite easy to please, making them a popular choice – but varieties with large, impressive foliage hit a little different.
Often the Split Leaf Philodendron can be confused with the popular Monstera Deliciosa, which is mistakenly referred to as a Split Leaf Philodendron as well – but we will address that shortly.
The true Split Leaf Philodendron is known by so many names that it can be quite confusing at times.
The common botanical name was once Philodendron Selloum, and then Philodendron bipinnatifidum, and now more recently it’s referred to as Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum.
There are also several common nicknames for the plant, such as Tree Philodendron, due to its ability to climb trees in its natural environment, or Lacy Leaf Philodendron for its notorious long, ruffled leaves.
Split Leaf Philodendron’s Origin & Backstory
Native to parts of South America, including Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Brazil, the Split Leaf Philodendron is a tropical evergreen shrub that belongs to the Araceae family.
They’re known for having large glossy, dark-green leaves, that are ruffled and characterized by deep lobes or splits.
They also have a natural ability to climb trees using their stalk-like stem and strong aerial roots, making them appear much taller and tree-like than they are.
Although the tropical plant is accustomed to warm, humid climates, it does tolerate drier, cooler conditions, making it a fantastic houseplant option.
Common Varieties of Split Leaf Philodendron
There are many varieties of Split Leaf Philodendron available on the market now, so you’ll likely come across a few at your local greenhouse or garden centre.
If you love the aesthetic of the Split Leaf, their cousins are just as low maintenance, perfect for plant hobbyists at all levels.
Keep an eye out for some of the following Split Leaf Philodendron varieties during your next garden centre venture.
Also called Winterbourn, this is one of the most popular Philo varieties. Although it is referred to as a dwarf variety, Philodendron Xanadu has very full foliage that doesn’t disappoint.
It is a non-vining variety that’s kept as a houseplant, as well as outdoor landscaping, depending on the setting and climate.
Philodendron “Super Atom”
A.K.A. ‘little crunchy’ is another popular dwarf variety that’s known for its “crunchy,” bushy leaves. It very closely resembles the Split Leaf Philodendron Selloum and has the same care requirements.
Philodendron “Gold Satin”
Also referred to as the Philodendron Selloum Golden, is an impressive variation of the Split Leaf. It reaches the same size but features bright golden-green coloured leaves that will brighten up any collection.
The leaves are not split, but more heart or spear-shaped, and it has the same simple care requirements.
Split Leaf Philodendron Care (Complete A to Z)
Maintaining a healthy, growing Split Leaf Philodendron is similar to caring for any other Philo variety. They are low maintenance and don’t have any special requirements, making them a terrific addition to any houseplant collection.
Like all plants, however, they do need necessities such as adequate water, lighting, fertilizer, and soil to thrive.
Just like other varieties, the Split Leaf Philodendron likes indirect sunlight. It’s important to be mindful when choosing a spot, as too much direct light during the day will scorch and burn the leaves.
Short periods of direct light shouldn’t be an issue, as the plant is quite resilient, but pay close attention to the overall condition of your plant.
If you notice that your Split Leaf has browned or burnt leaves, it may be time to find a different spot or move it further from the window.
On the other hand, if you notice your plant isn’t producing new leaves, it could be due to a lack of light. Not enough light can stunt the growth of your Split Leaf Philodendron, or even lead to overwatering.
With less light there is less photosynthesis, meaning the plant won’t be fed enough to flourish.
Find a spot near a window that receives plenty of indirect light to keep your plant thriving.
Potting Soil Mix
There are a few options when it comes to choosing the right soil or substrate for your Split Leaf Philo. The most important thing is it has well-draining soil that is nutrient-dense.
The best mix for any philodendron includes a variety of drainage materials mixed with soil.
A bag of aroid mix from your garden centre will have everything you need, or you can make your own by blending equal parts of soil with your choice of 2-3 of the substrate materials below.
- Peat moss
- Coarse sand
Philodendrons are not demanding when it comes to water, but they are very susceptible to overwatering, so always be sure to check the soil first.
Before watering use your finger or a wood stick, like a popsicle stick or toothpick, to check the soils moisture. Do not water your philodendron until the top 1-2 inches of soil are on the drier side.
To discourage overwatering, ensure all plant pots have water drainage holes in the bottom, and a tray to collect excess water.
We all want huge, robust plants, but the Split Leaf Philodendron can be sensitive to a high concentration of salt, so maintaining a neutral pH is imperative.
Since over-fertilizing can cause salt build-up in the soil, it’s important to be cautious with fertilizer application.
Fertilize your plant once every 4-6 weeks from Spring through to Summer, with diluted liquid fertilizer.
Read the directions carefully, dilute to 50% strength, and if you’re ever in doubt, less is more!
Ideal Humidity and Temperature
Originating from the tropics, the Split Leaf Philodendron prefers a warm, humid climate – like all Philo’s.
Maintaining an adequate temperature isn’t too demanding, however, with an ideal range being between 65-80°F (18-27°C). The plant will even tolerate temperatures as low as 60°F (16°C) in the winter, but any lower than that and you risk cold damage or stunted growth.
Philodendrons are sensitive to sudden changes in temperature too, so avoid placing them near a radiator, A/C, or drafts.
When it comes to humidity, the more you can provide the better – it is a tropical plant after all.
Ideally, philodendrons, including the Split Leaf, prefer humidity levels around 80%, but they are content anywhere between 40-60%.
If you want to accurately measure the humidity levels in your home, hygrometers can be easily found at garden centres, home improvement stores, or even pet stores.
You can raise the humidity in your home in a few easy ways.
- A humidifier – the easiest way, but that may not always be within budget.
- Humidity tray – place pots on a tray of water with rocks or gravel for a cheap fix.
- Group your plants – helpspromote evaporation and transpiration in the area.
- A more humid room – move your plants to a laundry room or solarium.
What To Expect From a Split Leaf Philodendron
If you have a new Split Leaf Philodendron that seems relatively small, don’t let it fool you. This tropical plant isn’t known as the Tree Philodendron for no reason.
Although the plant starts off growing wide, reaching upwards of 15 feet (4.5m) at full size, it develops in height with age.
When the Split Leaf is full-grown it can reach a maximum height of 10 feet (3m), which may be important to consider when taking it home – can you accommodate it in the years to come?
Flowers – Huh?
It’s rare to happen, but the Split Leaf Philodendron can flower! During the later years of its life, the plant may produce cream or purple-coloured spathe flowers.
The spike-like flowers can grow to be a foot (30cm) long if they do bloom.
Rate of Growth
When consistently provided with everything it needs, a Split Leaf Philodendron will grow moderately fast.
You’ll notice it will produce fewer leaves in the winter months, which is normal, but if you don’t see new leaves in the Spring, your plant needs more light ASAP!
Generally, it can take up to 10 to 20 years for a Split Leaf to reach its full, monstrous potential.
When and How to Re-pot a Split Leaf Philodendron
The best way to know if your plant needs a new pot is by its roots. Although philodendrons are notoriously resilient to being rootbound, the plant will be happier if it’s avoided.
When you notice roots escaping from the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, it’s time for an upgrade.
Usually, repotting is only needed every 2 years, but take your plants conditions and growth rate into consideration when deciding.
It’s best to re-pot in the Spring before growth season and choose a pot that’s only 1-2 inches bigger – using a pot that’s too big can result in overwatering!
There is no need to prune a Split Leaf Philodendron unless it’s to remove dead or damaged leaves or to propagate the plant. Remove brown or yellowing leaves with sanitized clippers to keep your plant healthy.
Propagating Your Split Leaf
Propagating the Split Leaf Philodendron can be done in a few ways.
If you have access to seeds, you can germinate the seeds in a Ziploc bag with a wet paper towel.
Store them in a dark place for a couple months, until the root is 1-2 inches, then plant the seed root down in the soil.
You can also complete a similar process with a leaf clipping, as long as you clip a leaf with a node.
Place the leaf stem cutting in the water near plenty of indirect light. Change the water weekly and when the roots are long enough you can plant the cutting in the appropriate soil mix.
You can also propagate the Split Leaf Philodendron with the layering method. Find a leaf stem that’s long and contains a node.
By carefully pinning the node to the soil, you can encourage root growth. Once the roots are 1-2 inches you can clip the leaf and repot it.
Common Philodendron Problems
Pests and Disease
Philodendrons are quite resistant to common pests, such as scale, mealybugs, spider mites and aphids, but it’s always important to be aware, just in case.
Look out for pests or signs of their presence, like irregular holes in the leaves, yellowing, or spotting – and act quick! Be sure to quickly separate any affected plants to reduce the chances of spreading.
To eliminate pests and disease, you may need to give your philodendron a brisk shower, as well as an insecticide treatment.
Depending on the pest, you may need to result to isopropyl alcohol, neem oil or horticultural soap to get the job done.
Since the plants larger leaves are prone to attracting dust, which can attract pests, aim to keep leaves dust-free by wiping them down with a damp towel routinely.
Try to avoid misting your Philo though, as it can lead to overwatering and possible mould or mildew.
Signs of Distress
Any hobbyist gets nervous when their plants look unwell aren’t thriving. There are three common signs your Split Leaf isn’t doing so great, which can easily happen with any philodendron.
1. Brown crispy leaves
This is a sign your plant needs more water or humidity. Check the soil before watering to prevent overwatering – if the soil is damp, you can increase the humidity using one of the ways we’ve mentioned.
Crispy leaves can also be caused by too much direct sunlight, so always take all the conditions into consideration to determine the cause.
2. Brown or dark spots
If you notice areas of your plant are getting dark or browning, but aren’t crispy, it’s likely due to overwatering.
Philodendron roots do not like to sit in standing water, which is why a well-draining soil mix is vital.
Make sure the tray under your plant pot is not holding water and check your soil often to avoid overwatering, which is the most common issue experienced.
3. Yellowing leaves
This can be caused by a few things, including overwatering. If you’ve covered all your bases where moisture is concerned and are confident it’s not the culprit, your plant may be nutrient deficient.
Review our suggestions for the best soil and substrate mix for your Split Leaf, as well as the best times to fertilize your plant to keep it thriving.
Yellowing leaves can also be a sign of a magnesium or calcium deficiency.
It is important to be aware of the toxicity of the Split Leaf Philodendron – keep it out of reach of pets and children.
All philodendrons contain oxalic acid, which irritates the mouth and throat and can cause difficulty breathing, severe pain, and inflammation.
Split Leaf Philodendron vs Monstera Deliciosa – What’s the Difference?
With all the name variations, I guess we can’t be too surprised there’s a bit of confusion – but don’t worry, we’re happy to clear it up for you!
If you type “Split Leaf Philodendron” into a search engine right now, you’ll probably see an image of the Swiss Cheese Plant, more commonly known as the Monstera Deliciosa.
The thing is, not only are they not the same plant at all, the Monstera Deliciosa is technically not even a philodendron.
The two plants have some similarities, including that they’re both from the Araceae family, however, they’re completely different genera (class).
So, even though Split Leaf Philodendrons and Monstera Deliciosa both have climbing varieties with splits in their leaves, the plants cannot cross-pollinate to create hybrid varieties.
The technology used to determine plant genetics wasn’t advanced before, which is why the Monstera Deliciosa was wrongfully classed as a philodendron for many years.
Unfortunately, it’s a hard habit to break and the popular plant is often found in garden centres tagged as a “Swiss Cheese Philodendron” or very commonly the Split Leaf Philodendron, despite not being one.
How to Easily Tell Them Apart
The best way to distinguish a true Split Leaf Philodendron from a Monstera Deliciosa is by their leaves.
They can closely resemble each other in the earlier stages of growth, however, it won’t take long to see where the Monstera Deliciosa gets its name, the leaves can get huge!
But they’re not just big, they’re easily identifiable with large splits and holes – hence the name confusion.
Not only does the Split Leaf Philodendron not have holes, a.k.a. fenestrations, their long lobed leaves often have more of a ruffled or wavy texture than those of the Monstera Deliciosa.
- Split Leaf Philodendron leaves are textured, have deep splits but no holes.
- Monstera Deliciosa leaves are smooth and have deep splits with holes.
Q: Is the Split-Leaf Philodendron rare, where can I find it?
A: The Split Leaf is not rare, but it can be difficult to find due to the naming confusion we explained earlier.
Now that you know how to identify a true Split Leaf Philodendron, you’ll likely notice them in your local garden centre.
Keep an eye out for its other names, such as Tree Philodendron and Philodendron Selloum – or some of its cousin varieties like the Gold Satin, Super Atom, and the Philodendron Xanadu.
Q: Is it okay to mist my Split-Leaf Philodendron?
A: Since philodendrons are sensitive to overwatering, it’s recommended that you do not mist them.
If you notice the leaves of your Split Leaf are collecting dust, you can wipe them down periodically with a damp towel.
Q: Does the Split Leaf Philodendron climb?
A: No, this variety is self-heading, meaning it isn’t vining and doesn’t usually need support. It has a stalk-like stem that grows upwards, similar to a tree.
Having said that, as it matures it may need a little support to help manage the weight of its large, wide-spread leaves.